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Full text of "A lecture on the subject of common schools : delivered before the North Carolina Institute of Education, at Chapel Hill, June 26, 1834"

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 




JUNE 26, 1834. 


Professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy and Geology, in the University 
of North Carolina. 





J/r. President and GentJcmcn of the Institute: 

I WILL, with your leave, inform this auihence. that ouf appointments, for 
this occasion, are two in number. An annual address with which we hopet] to be 
favoured from a gentleman of sueli talent and abihty, that had he not been caHcd by 
other engagements to a distant part of the country, their taste and judgment would 
have been fully satisfied. Secondly, a lecture on common schools — a sort of after- 
piece, of less substantial materials — of lighter texture — and a brevity which but for 
its relation to the other, that has just been stated, would, I fear, appear unseemly 
and indecorous. 

It is remarked by Sismondi that some of the great revolutions which have changcj 
the condition and character of nations attracted no attention whilst they were in 
progress. The agents by which they were efiectcd were des|jised as insiffnifieant, 
and proceeding slowly and in silence, they were already far advanced towards their 
accomplishment before they were known to have commenced. When generations 
separated from each other by an interval of many years were compared, men disco- 
vered with sur[)rise that the existing population of a State or Kingdom were in con- 
dition, sentiment and conduct a diflerent race from their fathers. 

Certain obscure inhabitants of the German cities along the Rhine, whose names 
have hardly escaped oblivion, seeking to multiply copies of books without the labour 
of repeated transcription, fell upon the invention of the art of printing. They aimed 
onl}' at an enhancement of the profits of the occupation from which they derived 
their subsistence, and little suspected the amount of influence they were exerting 
upon the destinies of man through all succeeding time. 

Some of the intelligent observers of the progress of events whom I have the b.onour 
of addressing, arc probably not aware that in our own day provision has been made 
for extending the triumphs of this art, and producing, by means of it, important 
changes in the structure and condition of society. Especially is this true in relation 
to our own country. Perhaps it is not too much to say that we are in the midst of a 
revolution. Not only have the seeds of great improvements been cast into a prolific 
soil, but the fruit has already, in some instances, been gathered. The changes to 
which we refer have also a very intimate connexion with the objects for which wc 
. are associated as members of the Institute of Education. 

V From the date of its invention the art of printing advanced rapidly to a hiffh de- 
> gree of exeellencc. The early editions of the classics are still admired as specimens 
"* of typographical elegance as well as accuracy. It then remained stationary, or 


nearly so, for about three ceDturies. Perfection was supposed to he, if not actually 
attained, at least so nearly approached in its diffi-rent processes, that material im- 
provement was neither attempted nor hoped for. Yet withm the last twenty years 
the lahour and expense of printing on an extensive scale and with a large amount of 
capital embarked, have been so far diminished as to have reduced to one-third of their 
former cost all the great standard works of English literature. 

Whilst improvement in the methods and operations of [irinting have been tending 
to the result of rendering books cheap and accessible to persons in the humblest cir- 
cumstances in whatever part of the world, a cause of a totally different character has 
been contributing, and is destined herr after to contribute largely to the production of 
the same etTccl in the United States. 

It is known to those who have turned their attention at all to the manufacture of 
books, that the wages of the compositor or person who arranges the letters in the 
order in which they stand on the printed page enters as an important item into the 
cost of their production. In this country it may amount to one half, or even more; 
and as it is a fixed quantity — remaining the same whether the edition of a book be 
large or small — it follows that the expense of pnnting a great number of copies does 
not increase with, or in proportion to the number. There is a great advantage in 
large editions. The price of each copy, including the expenses of paper and (iress- 
work and a small fraction only of the wages of the compositor, is reduced and brought 
within very moderate limits. 

On this account, that people are to be regarded as unfortunate whose language is 
confined to a small number of persons. Their literature will almost necessarily be 
barren — their books few in number, and those expensive. The population of tlie 
North-eastern corner of Spain and of the Highlands of Scotland who use the 
Basque and Ga;lic tongues, arc in this predicament. The Bible and a few small 
volumes of devotion, popular poetry, medicine and husbandry, will exhaust the cata- 
logue of their best furnished libraries. iNlcn of science have to struggle with the 
same kind of difficulty. Alathematicians, chemists, entomologists, botanists, and 
others that might be enumerated, constitute a number of distinct nations, employing 
a language with which the rest of mankind do not care to make themselves acquaint- 
ed, and the books they can venture to pubhsh are few in number compared with what 
the interests of those sciences demand, and those few exceedingly costly. 

The population of this jountry has now reached a point where this kind of embar- 
rassment — so far at least as the great body of our iiteraturc is concerned— has begun 
to disappear. At the close of the Revolutionary War, a high degree of enterprize 
Was implied in the publication of a book which will now be committed to the press 
in perfect security that the investment will be profitable and rcimbGrsement speedy. 
The increase of our population is going therefore to co-operate with the improve- 
ments in the art of printing in depressing the price of books very far below what it 
Tras even a very few years ago. With the fuads which wc have exhausted in tho 


jiurohasc of a few vokiiucs, a man of tho next <Tpnpration will provide himself with 
wliat nl.^^ bear the name cl' a library — and before our nuiidiers sliall liave rr.'lirj 
fifty nii'.lions, (a day not far distant,) every work having any pretentions to neri! will 
be brought into tlie market, in the certainly that somewhere in the long windinirs of 
the Atlantic coast — of the .\]ississippi, and its tributary streams — on the Eastern or 
Western declivity of tlie Alleghany, purchasers and readers will be found. Our 
literature will have a cheapness so far as the price, and a richness so far as the num- 
ber and variety of the volumes in which it is contained arc concerned, unequalled by 
that of any other people on the face of the globe. 

I am apprehensive that these minute details respecting the art of printing and tho 
price of books will be regarded by some persons as an awkward and impertinent in- 
troduction to an address before the Institute of Education. But it will perhaps bo 
admitted as an apology for them, that those considerations of economy which may be 
scorned and neglected under other eircuinstanees, become objects of paramount im- 
portance when the means of extending the benefits of education to the whole popu- 
lation of a country become the subject of discussion. What is in itself trifling and 
contemptible, acquires a character of magnificence if it be found to have a bearing on 
the well being of millions. 

When the attention of our citizens is urgently drawn to the subject of popular 
education, their minds recur at once to the ])ast. Neither the generation now upon 
the stage, say they, nor their fathers, enjoyed those advantages of learning which 
you represent as indispensable. A few weeks or months spent at an old-field school 
C5onsti!uted the whole of their literary education. They are not without their dc-; but they do, with decent [)rudence and judgment, manage their own private 
affairs, and watch over and secure the public weal. It becomes needful, therefore, 
for us to show, not merely that the times and circumstances are changing, but that 
they are already changed. By reason of the greatly diminished expense of the 
manufacture of books they are about to exert a much greater influence than ever, 
heretoibre, on the character and condition of mankind. They are the lever of 
Archimedes that is to move the world. Our own country, especial!}^, is destined to 
be inundated with them under every variety of form, and on every variety of subject; 
and, unless we will consent to fall into the back ground and allow the people of other 
sections and States to outstrip us in the career of improvement, education must be 
attended to. The case does not involve a question of expediency, but has a c'larac- 
Icr of strong and overwhelming necessity. 

It may be doubted whether this multi|)licatiou of books be not an evil. If it be 
such, it is an evil that is beyond our control. We may stand upon tho bank of the 
torrent, and utter loud lamentations, as we see it pour over its banks, but it will con- 
tinue to iswell and sweep on. If mischief is apprehended, it can be prevented in Init 
one way — by giving greater extension and accuracy to that education which has 
hitherto been scanty and imperfect. With tlic mere ability to read; a rich and varied. 


aitcraturc before him, but without the information necessary to guide his selection 
and crive accuracy to his jud<jmcnt, a man's condition will lie Httle better, thnn if, 
when labouring under disease, and ignorant of medicine, he be left in the p1io|) of 
the a|)otliecary to swallow a potent remedy or a fatal poison, as he may hap)ien to 
by his hand on the one or the other. Such a man is the very material on whicli the 
imprinciplcd and dcsignhig will delight to act. But strengthen his mind by culture, 
and store it with knowledge, and you place him beyond the reach of danger. 

But it is easy to enlarge on ihe importance of education, and to establish its neces- 
sity, by convincing arguments. A more difficult task awaits us in the discussion of 
the methods by which it may be rendered genera! and its benetits shared by all ranks 
and orders of society. It may indeed be stated, very briefly, that if we will give 
greater extension and eflcct to the scheme of education at present in use amongst us, 
a larger amount of the time, labour and annual income of the population of the 
country must be devoted to this object; and that, if thus devoted with perseverance 
and skill, there can be no doubt that the result desired will be rcahzcd. But how, 
and from whom, shall the funds dej-tincd to the purposes of education be collected, and 
how distributed and applied. The case evidently, not only admits, but demands, the 
interposition of the Lawgiver — rnd for two or three diflercnt reasons. 

Where the consequences of neglect in the discharge of parental duties soon mani- 
fest themselves, it is not., in most cases, expedient for the State to interfere in behalf 
of the child. If the poor man intermit those labours by which his family is sup[)ort- 
cd, hunger soon looks in at his door, and his heart is rent by the voices of his children 
clamouring for bread. He will be impelled to his task, however ungrateful, by a 
feeling more intense than a dread of the penalty vi'hich the laws of his country assign 
to a neglect of his duty. That the public authorities should enforce the cultivation 
of the earth, or a diligent application to the mechanic arts, is therefore unnecessary, 
and in this country at least impracticable. It is said that the Dutch, when a man 
will not labour, put him into a cistern, furnislicd with a pump — set the water to run- 
ning upon him, and then leave liim his election, between jiumping himself clear and 
strangling. But if this method were introduced amongst us, it is to be apprehended 
that one half the community would be kept busy throughout the year in making 
cisterns and pumps for the other. 

But in many cases a parent will provide his chilii with food and clothing, whilst 
lie neglects the cultivation of his mind. Education is a plant of slow growth. — 
Though it may blossom and give fair promise, it does not produce much fiuit till 
after the lapse of fifteen or twenty years. Men are not fond of labouring for so 
remote a return. As the boy, when he is grown to be a man, is to exert an influ- 
ence, either good or evil, upon the society of whicli he is a member — that society has 
a right, in self-defence, to compel the father to allow his son time, and to such extent 
as his property will admit, the means, of obtaining an education. 

But further: in thccstabli.^hmcnt and su;>^!Ovt of common schools, individual catrr- 

pfize Ccan effect but little — there must be co-operation. Nor can this be safely Ici't ty 
such arraii^eiuents as the parties concerned shall be led, under the influence of the 
Common interest they have in the matter, to make with each other. When a settle- 
ment is small, it often happens that the amiable passions of anger, envy, hatred, with 
others of lesser name, kindly come in to swell the numbers of a scanty pojiulation, 
and a man will choose that his children shall never know a letter, rather than share 
the benelits of education with the children of the person from whom he may have 
received some trivial insult. The iron chain of the law is here required, with it? 
wholesome girding, to bind these jarring elements into a single, if it be not a peaceful 
and harmonious mass — to communicate certain limited corporate powers, and prevent 
what is so important to the welfare of the child from being left to the result of a long 
and friendly negociation. 

In settUng the amount which each individual shall contribute to the fund destined 
to the support of the school, it does not seem to be needful to enquire very solicitous- 
ly, how many children he may have to share in its benefits, nor to exempt him, 
though he be childless. His abihty is the principal point to be ascertained. The 
general dif^U5^ion of knowledge is of such advantage to all, though its beneficial 
effects reach some by direct and others by indirect channels, that, like the frame of 
government under which we live, it may claim a general support. 

I am well aware that it is a maxim, perhaps an axiom in the books of law, that a 
man's house is his castle and his plantation his little kingdom, of which he alone is 
the sovereign Lord, and in the possession, management and disposal of which and of 
whatever it yields, he cannot be interrupted or interfered with, without manifest and 
great injustice. It is undoubtedly best for all ranks and orders of men, that wc 
should be permitted to acquire property; to hold it by the tenure just dcfcribcd, and 
transfer it to others, to be thus held by them; and those are the enemies of the human 
race who advance and advocate a different doctrine. But let us distinguish between 
absolute rights and such as the public welfare requires that we possess. It has never 
yet been my good fortune to meet with the original title-deeds by which the God of 
Nature conveyed to one of his creatures an absolute and perfect property in a single 
acre of the soil of this land. If, then, the pulilic good require that every man be 
protected and defended in the possession and enjoyment of his estate, and if it fur- 
ther require that some inconsiderable portion of his income be diverted from the pur- 
poses to which he would apply it, to meet the expenses of general education, let 
not such disposal of it receive the name of injustice. The State has a right to 
specify the terms and conditions on which protection shall be granted and posses- 
sion allowed; nor is it more reasonable for a person to refuse to contribute to the 
fund destined to the support of common schools, because he has no children to send 
to them, than to object to the payment of those taxes by which the criminal law is 
upheld and executed, because its penalties are to be inflicted upon another man, and 
he is not to experience in hi.s own person the -joys of whipping, cropping, branding; 
Strangulation, and imprisonment. 

The Legislature may interfere with advantage, and without passing the bounds oi 
justice, in tlie business of education, to the extent of clothinur the counties, or other 
smiilhr municipal divisions established for this particular purpose, with the power of 
imposing taxes for the support of schools to a limited amount, and according to the 
plan of assessment already in use for other purposes. It may then enforce the main- 
tenance of a certain number of schools by the imposition of penalties in case of 
neglect, and beyond this its action will be neither profitable nor exjedient. 

Soiue persons have a magnificent scheme for sustaining schools altogether by funds 
drawn from the State Treasury. It suits their convenience and habits much better 
to lie upon their backs and rail at the Lenislature for not sending a schoolmaster to 
educate their children, than to get up and a;)i)ly their own shoulders to the wheel. 
If a vote of the Legislature could call millions of gold and silver trom non-existence 
into lieing, or if their voice had even half the potency of the lyre of Amphion, and 
could make tall pine trees descend from their elevation and arrange themselves into 
comely school-houses, we would ourselves be foremost in invoking their aid. It 
would afjpear from the tcnour of certain orations on this subject, to which wc have 
listened with wonder, as we have heard them uttered with warmth and apparent 
sincerity, that the Legislature have the ability, without increasing the burthens of 
the people, tu extend the benefits of education to every remote village and settlement 
in the country. But there is no mystery in the case. A warrant upon the treasury 
i for one hundred dollars, to pay the salary of a schoolmaster, will make just as great 
an inroad ujwn the amount of funds in hand as if devoted to some other object.— 
When the vaults of the treasury are exhausted, they must be replenished by the 
tooth-drawing process of taxation, or by some equivalent. If the State is to sustaia 
conunon schools, funds for this purpose must be drawn from the pockets of the peo- 
ple — must be part of the annual product of their labours — drawn from them for the 
express purpose of being paid back again — but in j>art only; for a part must be re» 
tained to cover the expenses of management. And whether it be of any particular 
advantage to a village or settlement to pay one hundred dollars into the public trea- 
sury, that it may receive ninety-five in return, to aid in supporting the schoolmaster, 
we may leave to the arithmetician who has not gone beyond counting upon Iiis 
■fingers to decide. 

The results of the attempts that have been made in other States to maintain free 
schools by monies drawn from the public treasury, either directly and avowedly, or 
indirectly, through the medium of a literary fund, are not of a nature to induce us 
to rush very eagerly into the system. Large sums have been expended in this way 
by our nearest neighbours — Virginia and South Carolina — and good has been done; 
but at an expense that is not in keeping with the advantage derived from it. Con- 
necticut has a school-fund of very nearly two millions, and is able to pay to hel 
citizens a larger sum for the supiort of c >: nii-n schools than she draws from them 
under the form of taxes. And /et it is doubted by many persons who have watched 

V?ith care and intelliffencc the eflccts of these ample contributions to the cause of leavn- 
injr, whoiiiiT it weri' not brtter tiiat the school fund were anniiiilated, and t n- s stem 
abandoned, Massachusetts, with a population of kindred habits aii<l character, but 
witiiout a school-fund, has better schools, and without feeling the burthen. 

The only effect of the system is to convert the population of the State into a joint 
stock company for this particular object. The best writers on political eco Mmy 
represent, that such companies are always an expensive, and often an unsuccessful 
agftu'v for the transaction of any business. And for this reason, that no one is 
thoroughly interested in watching over their concerns; preventing fraud and embez- 
zlement, and following on with promptitude, where a prospect of profitable invest- 
ment is opened. They have this character in a higher degree, in pro|)ortion as they 
are larger. The United States pay more liberally, in general, for services rendered, 
than a single State — the State has work executed at higher cost than a county — and 
a county will be less happy and successful in the transaction of business than an 
individual. The business of maintaining schools will, therefore, be conducted on 
the most economical plan, when the eagle eye of private interest is watching over it, 
and superintending both its collections and disbursements. 

The only institutions that can with propriety claim the direct and efficient patron- 
age of the government are such as private enterprize or even the co-operation of a 
few individuals is not competent to establish and support. Of these, an University 
may lurnish one of the fairest and best examples. In regard to every thing else, it 
is best that the people should be thrown, and should regard themselves as thrown, 
upon their own resources — and for this simple and sufficient reason, that, after all 
the d.uiiiguity we may employ, and the name of literary or other fund we may give 
to the machinery we use, the people have to bear the expense, and can accomplish 
the desired object in a cheaper and better way than any in which it can be executed 
for them. 

But here the very worthy and excellent gentlemen by whom I was designated to 
the duty I have the honor of fultilling, will perhaps exclaim with indignation, that 
the |)roduction of arguments, and the establishment of conclusions, such as these, 
were not the objects of the appointment. We wanted you to shew how decent 
schoolhouses can be made to rise spontaneously out of the earth; schoolmasters be 
taught to live upon air and clothe themselves, with a mist or vapour, so as to need no 
su[)iiort from us; and how, instead of rain, we .nay get now and then, in the course 
of t'le suaimer, a shower of spelling-books. As I have wandered so far froai the 
train of thought by them regarded as the only proper one, they will perhaps declare 
this discourse of mine to be a mere lecture as it were about nothing at all— and even 
compel me to lecture again— a misfortune in which I should hope my audience would 
grant me their pity and sympathy, as I can assure them they should have mine. To 
escape, if possible, so great an evil, I must propose some pUii hy whi^-h the .'sisting 
faci I iti;'s for acquiring an education may be increased without an enhancement of 
the expense. 

Mawp informs ns, in his travels in Enzil, that as the Portufruese proceeded in 
TvorViiuj, I lie ijolu mines of tliat country, they fell in with certain pebbles of nicnler.ite 
size, which they were led to collect and preserve as curiosities merely, without attach- 
ing any value to them, and which they used as counters in their games of chance 
and skill. At length, some person observed that these pebbles resembled those 
brought from India to Europe; wiiich, after being cut and pohshed, are attached as 
brilliant ornaments, under the name of diamonds, to the robes of Princes. These 
stones from Brazil proved on trial to be diamonds. 

I have long bi-on of the opinion, that we have amongst us a treasure, correspond- 
ing to these precious gems from the Brazilian mines, which may be made available 
for the purposes of education — which is before our eyes from day to day — and yet, 
hardly a person beside myself appears to be fully aware of its transcendent value 
and excellence. This treasure is the female se.\ — which I might, perhaps, claim as 
lay own by the right of first discovery. And here I must beg those fair maidens 
who grace and animate our anniversary by their presence, not to take the alarm, under 
the idea that they are going to be requested to become instructresses in the common 
schools. Will they have the goodness to attend ()articularly to the exact nature of 
the illustrations we have employed. Tt is the oiamonds that are yet unpolished, 
that we propose to devote to this occupation — not such as to native brilliancy have 
already added all the radiance and beauty which the most exquisite touches of art 
can communicate. Abandoning metaphor, we refer to those who are so elegantly 
described and characterized by one of our American poets, as "Brown-corn-fed 
nymphs" — young, females, born in humble circu nstaiices; with)Ut propefty, and 
whose honest industry is t'le only fund to which they can look for a maintenance. 

The invention of certain articles of machinery used in the cotton factory has ren- 
dered those occupations of spinning and weaving, which in the most palmy day.-; of 
Greece and Rome were the pleasure and the pride of their fairest and proudest 
matrons — the Andromaches, Penelopes and Cornelias of ancient story — a mere use- 
less waste of time. The labour of females in these employments is und'ir existing 
circumstances worth next to nothing. 

Willing as far as possible to give a practical character to these remarks, t have 
accumulated a considerable mass of facts respecting hanks and cuts of yarn; ''iv)W 
many can he spun, and how many woven up in a day, and the value of the w'lole 
when the task is completed; and by the application of the principles of the transoen- 
devital geometry to these facts, I hoped to ascertain what a young woman may n i ird 
as the probable remuneration of her labour fur a year. But fearing that if I ai!')>ved 
mvsclf to enter upon these sublime subjects, 1 might be so far overcome by them as 
to neglect Horace's precept — 

"Servetur ad imum. 
Q,ua-i&, a": 'ncepto processerit:" 

and fired with the thcnrTe', inigiit break out into a sweet strain of 'off; ' impas- 
sioned poesy, 1 determdned to avoid tlie dangerous topic. Of the general state of the 


facts, Iiowever, there can lie no doubt— that many a female, who is now nomeless, 
fr'cndles>i, lielpless — reaiU' to accopt the hand of a man whom noitlirr her uiiilcrst md- 
inij nor her heart approves, as a means of esca|)e from still ifn^ater evils — mijj'U, v.ith 
a little instruction, comnianil a home; he independent of cold-hearteii relatives, and 
looked up to with the afl'ection due to a second mother by many a child, indebterl to 
her ibr a plain but competent education. Ail this would be accomplished, and the 
benefits of learnincr ditfused widely through the country, with hardly any expense — 
with a trifling addition only to the amount of wages these persons are now receiving. 

In the Northern States, the young females find employment in the factories, and 
General Jackson, when he visits that part of the country, makes his trinm)ihal entry 
into the towns where their operations are carried on, through files of factory girls a 
mile or more in length. Should he favor North Carolina with a visit, I would have 
hiip) welcomed at the Virginia line by a mile of schoolmistresses, each with a diction- 
ary and spelling-book under her arm, and the Governor of the State, or President of 
the University, (ao one ontre uther could orocure himself, by active electioneering, 
to be elected to that high office,) at their heacT. 

I may be met here with the objection, that females would be unable to manage the 
raw, unpoHshed and refractory materials of which our common schools are likely 
sometimes to be composed. On this point, I may appeal to the more venerable pirt of 
my audience — those who bend their awful brews like Jove in the halls of justice and 
legislation, and whose nod decides the fate of men and States, and demand of them 
whether there is hkely to be any incapacity to rv.le and govern. But as this may 
prove a delicate subject of inquiry, I will state a little the results of my own expe- 
rience, and mention, that one of the severest, most soul-subduing and effectual casti- 
gations I ever received at school was applied by a very small and delicate female bind. 

But should a want of vigour in the instructresses in controlling the population of 
their little empires, render necessary the occasional interfere nce~aiid co-operaiion of 
the [larents of the children, this is the very result which, beyond almost every other, 
is to be desired and hoped for. The little interest they excite is a principal cause of 
the Kmali advantage derived by the rising generation from the existing institutions 
established for their benefit. A man will know the name and countenance of the 
person he employs as an instructor for his children; be able to say that the scltiol- 
house Ues in a given direction, because that way runs the path along winch the 
negroes went with the wagon to assist in building it, and that path his childr. ii take 
when they start for school in the morning, or he helped to raise it with hi.- own 
hands, and knows well its situation and magnitude — but of the mode of instruction 
adopted, and the progress made there, he is content to live In ignorance. Why 
should the child trouble himself about that which occupies so few of the thoughts of 
the father? Whilst we would ascribe the very supericn- efficiency of Sunda^ Schools 
m no inc.o"'-"'''°»able degrpe to the particular favoUi ''- Uy God, 

rewardijro- V and excellent labour of '•In.. -tiJii chant . .-^ -..v,uni.^i.iiice that so 
many, younst *nd old, are embarked in the enterprize,. watching over its progress and 


tirging it on, contrilnites 'hevoinl doubt to stimulate the industry of the child, and aids^ 
in s('cnviiig the ai'U.:i^ result. 

C'pst le premier pas qui coute. The entrance on almost every new scheme of 
action is enibarrasse<l with distrcssinfr difficulties. Those encumbering the scheme 
proposed would soon disappear, and other beneficial results, not less important thau 
those immediately in view, might be expected to follow. 

There are two kinds of edwcation. One is derived from books, and requires only 
time, talent and industry for its acquisition. It is that which is in view when enqui- 
ries are made respecting popular education, and the best means of conducting and 
accomplishing it. The other is obtained by commerce with mankind, and is such a«; 
sharjiened the intellect of the ancient Athenian, who without literature was never- 
theless acute, able and ready to detect any fallacy presented to his understanding, and 
with a taste which in delicacy and correctness is not surpassed by that of the most 
aCwtimjilished scholars ol' modern times, in the towns, villages and populous settle- 
ments, as also in the persons of the wealthy who have r.ppnrtnnitipB nf intercourse 
■witJ! the world, both are accomr>'i«^'°J, "'<"« or less, perfectly together. But in the 
less fertile distriete, where habitations occur only at distant intervals, the knowledge 
derived from bo<>ks is wanting through the want of an instructer to communicate the 
first rudiments of learning, and the mind brought into collision with mind but sel- 
dom — stagnates. ( ouid the population of our country be thoroughly aroused and 
interested on the subject of common schools, they would themseves furnish an oppor- 
tunity and occasion of intercourse between families and neighbouring sections of • 
countrv — such as neither the muster, the lax-gathering, nor any other assemhK of ■ 
the people does afford, for that interchange of thought and feeling which operates ',: 
almost as powerfully as books themselves in the diffusion of a spirit of informa- 
tion and intelligence. 

Whn iu tiic ch.i.-,iiaii pniiamnropisi uy whom this great work is to be accom{)Iish- T 
ed, I know not; whoever he may be, his name will merit a place on the roll of true 
faijie and greatness but just beneath that of Howard. The exertions of the Institute 
in tills good cause are meritorious; but it is not, after all, by the appointment ol a 
person to rise up on the day before Commencement, execute the annual roarini^ on ,'■ 
the subject of education, and sit down, that the work is to be done. Warmer h(>arts, ■ 
and n,ore faithful nrn! laborious iiands than have been yet engaged, are necessary, or •'' 
all our past exertions will prove unavailing.